Monday 8 December 2008

How Large an Age Gap is Decent?

You all had faith in life...
Well, by 24 to 7.
That's quite optimistic :)

This week's poll is on a subject that I really don't think there is a clear dividing line on. One which people generally have opinions on.
And one society generally doesn't have a clear standard on.
Or any kind of clear morality on.

And many of you will probably shocked to find out my views on this topic are- actually quite puritanical in some eyes.

And it is to do with sex and age gaps.

A few weeks ago, we were discussing in the Star, the whole principle of men being prosecuted for having sex with underage girls. And one person- who should have known better- trotted out the tired old formula 'Yes, but some of these fifteen year old girls, dress much older. And they aren't naive. If you met one in a club, you could easily think she was older.'

I replied 'Pond. Can a fifteen year old girl make herself look over twenty two?'
He said probably not.

I swigged my pint. 'There you go. If I, as a thirty year old man, was to use that excuse, it doesn't much change the principle. I'd still have been prepared to bed an eighteen year old. And that's still wrong. In principle, a thirty year old man who beds an eighteen year old girl is WORSE than a twenty year old man who beds a fifteen year old girl. The fact is, if you bed a girl, believing her to be eighteen, and she turns out to be fifteen, you deserve to be punished as a nonce- because you're a nonce'.

At which point Scott the Barman, bedder extraordinaire, waded in 'So- you're saying you wouldn't shag a fit eighteen year old?
I frowned. 'Of course not. I'm thirty. It's plain wrong. It's an inappropriate age gap'.

I remember on New Year's Eve, last year, I was a little drunk and I was kind of well, I had my tongue down the throat of some girl I'd just met, when it occurred to me, looking in the light that she seemed a little fresh faced.
So I asked her 'How old ARE you?'
She replied 'Eighteen'.
I reeled. 'You do realise I'm thirty?'
She said she didn't care. Anyhow, I found the girl's mother and pointed out to her that I had been dangerously close to going home with her daughter and was she was aware of this. She said she had noticed, and it was no concern of hers. I reiterated the point, that her daughter was eighteen and I was thirty. Did she not think that a LITTLE indecent? Apparently, she didn't.

But of course, it IS indecent.

There is a margin of acceptability, and the problem with the law as it stands, is it doesn't take into account, the REAL ethics of the situation.
If a girl is fifteen, then a seventeen year old male who sleeps with her, breaks the law.
If a girl is seventeen, then a fifty year old male who sleeps with her, has broken no law.

To me, that's wrong. It should be the second instance that is illegal, not the first.

The age of the girl shouldn't be the issue, the age difference between the parties should be the issue.

Some will argue that many women in their twenties exploit older men by marrying them for their money. The proverbial case of the young blonde marrying the octogenarian oil billionaire. We're supposed to feel sorry for him.
Well, I don't. He gets what he deserves. Just because in this instance, a slightly worldly wise young girl is able to manipulate his sordid urges, doesn't stop them being sordid urges. At the end of the day, he's an octogenarian who has tried to buy young fresh flesh, and if he gets more than he bargained for, he deserves it. His wealth doesn't change the fact, he's a dirty old man.

And some recognition should be made of the fact that a male with an age advantage is in a position to exploit his greater worldly wisdom and life experience.
Some would argue that the same is possible the other way round, and I agree to some extent, but I would say a greater age gap is permissible the other way. I don't feel that males can be psychologically scarred the same way. The dynamics of sex mean that sex is less PERSONAL for a male than for a female. That's why we regard female consent so highly. Her physical person is actually being entered, it is more significant in psychological terms.

It is rare that a male can be traumatised in any way from unwanted sex with a female, so we don't have to worry about male sensibilities so much. There's a limit to the harm it can do. I was seduced several times in my youth by women at least twice my age and it didn't do me any harm.

Not when it was just simply sex.
But I think when it was about things other than sex, it was quite emotionally traumatic. I think men are highly emotionally, as opposed to sexually, vulnerable to older women.

The area where younger males are in danger from older women isn't the danger of sexual exploitation at all. From personal experience, I do think males probably DO need protecting in some ways from older women, but not from being used for sex. I DO think that quite often older women can severely psychologically and emotionally traumatise younger males, but that is another issue entirely, and not one related to sex. I think as a general rule we as a society should try to ensure that men don't get seriously EMOTIONALLY involved with women too much older than them, but where it's only sex involved, I don't think there is a problem.

So I must admit to not being overly convinced we need to legislate in any way to prevent males being sexually exploited by females. I really don't think it can do them any harm. When the Amy Gehring case was going on, I thought 'So what? I bet none of the lads in question complained!'
And I still think that.

But I do think that sex really should be restricted to people within the same broad age group, and when generation gaps start to be crossed, it really is highly undesirable. Older men exploit younger women sexually, older women exploit younger men psychologically.

And I do think we should revise the law on sex and consent.
Drop the age of consent to fourteen, but make it illegal for any male to have any sexual relations of any type with anyone- male OR female- less than 75% of his age.

I'm interested to see how people feel on this one.

Poll's in the sidebar.

Have your say!


Anonymous said...

Hmmmm, interesting post. I would have to say that gender apart, a 30year old with an 18 year old is questionable. I would have to wonder what the motive is. For example I have a very attrative 17 year old cousin, she looks like she is about 23. When she comes to visit Toronto and we go out she gets noticed by older men. The mere thought of her actually dating any of the cat calling douchbags that try and get her attention on the street sickens me. For the most part there is a divide between those of us in our 30s and those who are still in their teens. I think I would have to agree with your position on this one. It just ain't cool.

Anonymous said...

I don't know Crushed. Age difference issues depend on the age of the couple. My ex girlfriend was 37 to my 48, and I had no problem with it, and don't think she did either. Personally at 49, I would never want to date a woman under say 35-40 for anything serious, because maturity levels come into play, not to mention a generation gap. But if a woman of legal age (18+) came up to me and said let's fuck? Just for sex, why not?

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that there is a question of decency with certain age gaps. I'm not sure about slapping legalities on it, however, in regards to persons in their majority. While some might find it icky or offensive for a 30 year old woman to be with a 60 year old man, I don't think the law should be stepping in and deciding for the woman whether she can have sex with him or not. Seems rather ridiculous to me.

I also don't think the age of consent ought to be lowered. While I think more leniency should be called for in the case of a 15 year old girl and 17 year old boy having sex, I think at 15 most teens are fairly stupid. The law won't prevent intercourse from occurring, but it at least puts a warning label on it for sexual predators and for those much older.

Your take on young males being taken psychologically advantage of rather than sexually by older women is interesting, but perhaps an over simplification. Then again, I'm the mother of a young teen boy, and the whole idea of him being sexualized kind of grosses me out.

Anonymous said...

Good post topic! I had a friend who was 13 and was dating an 18 year old guy. The parents would have him over for dinner and sleep overs because they'd rather she did everything under their roof than in the back of a paddock somewhere. There is so much grey in these sort of areas...

Anonymous said...

Fusion has a sensible take on this one. Quite frankly I figure you are just plain wrong to even think about legislating for this any more than it is already. The fact that you even consider it makes me wonder if you have a sneaky authoritarian side, masked by your generally more liberal views.

You were a bit scary over “paedophiles” in one of your other posts, and the worryingly wide definition of “paedophile” you seem to hold, plus what it seems to make “ok” to deal with them. I wonder if also impacts on aspects of this post?

I figure common sense and social attitudes accomplish all that needs to be done. They tend to work ok in general.

I still don’t see anything basically wrong with say a 37 year old guy marrying a 25 year old girl. It depends on the couple. There are issues of compatibility, common cultural experience, social acceptability and biological clocks.

Certainly no need for legislation, or witch hunts.

Anonymous said...

I think it all depends on the stage of life one is in. A thirty year old with an 18 year old, not so good but obviously some of the other examples given are perfectly valid to my way of thinking, even if the genders are reversed.:)

Anonymous said...

Decency depends on context, not absolutes. There's nothing that makes an "age-appropriate" relationship immune to manipulation, emotional abuse, physical brutality, or exploitation of wealth and/or maturity. I haven't had relationships with women much younger than I , for they don't interst me as much as women my own age. But I don't see anything immoral about someone my age dating someone much younger--in and of itself (context, you see). I have dated women considerably my elder, and didn't suffer any of the lasting traumas that I did with women my own age.

I just don't buy the premise as an absolute. I will say, however, that there are times two people shouldn't hook up BECAUSE of age.

Once again, that's context.

Anonymous said...

Reeny- I think so, yes. Though when was 19, I was going to bed with women older than that, in some cases. I think it was OK for the most part, one of them had two kids and her man worked away. It was all fairly simple, casual sex.
I think we were both clear, so there was no issue.

But I think a lot of girls get exploited at that age.

Fusion- 48 to 37 fits in with my rule- 11 years is 25% :)

It isn't simple always, I know.

The generation gap is so often a kay factor, you're right.

VicariousRising- The point is, that I don't think it matters if a 14 year old is having sex- as long as the other party isn't over 18. But likewise, an 18 year old should be protected from much older men too.

I think often older women take advantage of enmotionally vulnerable men and exploit them psychologically. My experience is that older women CAN- not always- but CAN- severely psychologically traumatise younger men. Because younger men are not used to dealing with women of that age and can easily find themselves in a dangerous situation.

Kate- Thirteen is a bit young though, in my opinion. But I think the idea makes some sense. I think if I was a parent, I'd rather my daughter brought boyfriends back then just had sex in the park with all and sundry.

Moggs- I guess in a sense, yes, I probably am rather puritanical on this. I guess it's because I have a strong antpathy to sex offenders, for reasons of experience. I guess I just find the idea of middle aged men and young girls to be revolting.

I don't know if you watch Eastenders, but the storyline there has been disturbing me of late. I was actually quite upset by last night's episode. I was saying to the Baker, I don't know whether to applaud them for their handling of it, or whether I feel they've crossed a line, that it really opens up an abyss. It's before the watershed, I'm an adult, and I'm finding it distressing to watch.

jmb- I've come to the conclusion that right now, girls in their early to mid twenties seem to be about right for me. They seem to be the ones most on my all round level. Ones my age or over have me for breakfast :)

X-dell- I guess its true,. Thing is there are several different factors, some age related, some life experience related, I suppose there are a wealth of indicators determining suitability.

I think the most important HAs to be being on the same intellectual wavelength. And being characters that complement eachother, rather than create negative chemistry, or a one sided dependancy, or where one side is in a position of power, unbalanced.

Anonymous said...

Crushed, You say “I have a strong antipathy to sex offenders, for reasons of experience.“ You may do.

I will say a couple of things. Is this largely because of attitudes you got to soak up? Did you think where some of that attitude comes from, possible reasons for it. Is it really (big word^_^) commensurate?

I think there are maybe a number of reasons such a very strong reaction might exist and I figure maybe you should be wary of it.

Also I think maybe you might allow the bad feelings on the subject to bleed over to other circumstances that you see as superficially similar. Are you sure that how you define paedophilia to yourself isn't too focussed on a wide age gap?

A gap that may be accurate at younger ages but does not apply between adults, who have the right to live how they would like?

On Eastenders, sorry no, I don't follow it.

If you still fancy girls in their mid 20s in 5 years time will you be rethinking some of your views?

Anonymous said...

I like your post style, man, that's for sure.

I remember it, about a year ago, when you said you had just got in from a somewhat disturbing night where you had almost took an 18 year old home and the mother was present and did not care... takes time to let the words settle, but here they are.

And that's what I mean, you post night after night, yet you never sound contrived or forced. The idea flows. It might sometimes be rough, and other times you have ever syllable down perfect, but it always seems natural.

Good stuff.

But as for the picture up top, of Anna Nichole and her old sugar daddy (I forget his name off the top and I won;t google it as I need to pass out soon, but well enough, I know the story), well, he knew what she was after. And here's his side of it--he was estranged from his children and the rest of his family, none of them ever called him or visited him except on Christmas, and then they would all squabble and whatnot... I'm sure it got old to him.

He recognized the fact that they were waiting for him to die so they could get his money.

Anna Nichole was a Texas stripper who he met. She met his scant needs with a smile and called him every day. The old man eventually decided to give his family the ultimate 'fuck you' and re-wrote his will so that Anna Nichole got everything.

I really don;t blame the guy.

I actually think it's unfair that after years of keeping it in the courts, his family was able to get beck most of the money. The old man was not taken advantage of. He knew EXACTLY what he was doing--cutting out the greedy assholes, and replacing them with the one person who gave him human contact, and much more of it than any of them could/would.

He just wanted love and respect, and his family provided neither. In the end he settled for the woman who would give him sex and who would sit and listen to his stories.

I personally liked the story and was a little bummed when I found out the greedy family had gotten most of the money back...

but that's me.

Peace out, mate.

Anonymous said...

Although I question the realities of legislating something like this (should it really matter if she is 60 and he is 75, for instance?), I like the sentiment behind it. I'm tired of people pretending there is nothing exploitative about many of these relationships. Especially the men who *only* go for vastly younger women-- I understand that sometimes love and attraction will surprise you, but when it is a pattern, it is more about you than it is about that particular younger woman.

But, in the interest of full disclosure, it could be that my sister has a tendency to be that 25% + below. Her latest fling is (and her boss, on top of that... don't even get me started). At least he apparently also dates women his own age. A guy a few years ago was nearly 40 to her 22, and only dated women of that age range. Legal, sure, but damn creepy if you ask me.